Community,  Q + A,  Self-Care & Parenting

Q + A with Stephanie

Q + A with Chickie & Roo: Ep. 2

Today, we’re sitting down with Stephanie from StoriesBeginAtHome to learn about her perspective as a home educating mother. She is exploring the rather uncommon topic of hybrid homeschooling. I personally feel that a lot of parents considering homeschooling for the future might benefit from hearing how and why she has chosen this path!

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Stephanie in person recently, and she is every bit as outgoing, joyful, and amazing as she appears online! Stephanie is a true inspiration to me as she navigates a full family, busy household and a creator career. As you read her words below, I know you too will be inspired and feel her positive energy coming through!

 

 

How many children do you have and what are their ages?

4 children- 5.5 yr old boy, 4 yr old girl, 2 yr old boy, 4.5 month baby girl

 

What is your purpose in educating at home?

Ah So many things! I desire a gentle learning approach, more time with my children than a
traditional school schedule, flexible curriculum/pacing, ability to suite their individual learning
styles, breaks for movement & outdoor exploration, and an education that incorporates God’s
Word & Biblical truths into our school, play, and life. Really it’s just more time to live life together.

 

How did you come into the rhythm of hybrid homeschooling?

When my oldest was 4, I was starting to begin thinking we might possibly homeschool for a
variety of reasons. But there is an excellent local church preK that many of our friends attended
& I wanted to give it a try for him. It’s 3x a week and he thrived in it & it quickly became a
wonderful, gentle, nurturing environment for him & community for me with other moms & young
families. At that time, for me, I couldn’t picture sending him to a full time 5/day a week
Kindergarten program the following year. I loved the 3x a week half day schedule. It felt like the
best of both worlds! I wanted to find a way we could continue to make this happen.
And so I began looking at options in our area. He thrives in school and loves it and I’m an
extrovert and long to be in community and finding other like minded mamas. I met a mom at a
local children’s museum who said she did a hybrid. I then met another mom who said the same.
So I went to the tours of the schools and began my research. We loved the preK he already
attended & because I was going to have my 4th baby in the Fall of that year, we decided to
delay a Kinder schedule of any kind until he was 6. He has had a different teacher this year and
it has been such an answer to prayer. It was a great decision for us.
Because I had already done my research the previous year, I knew we would send him to the
hybrid this coming Fall of 2020. I just enrolled him and couldn’t be more excited!

 

What are the benefits of hybrid homeschooling for your family?

We get to be in charge of our children’s education. The hybrid school is there to support us and
enrich what we do at home. It is a Christian school so we have the benefit of scripture being
woven throughout the curriculum they teach and continuing this in our home. They believe in a
very gentle early learning approach, learning through play, hands on engagement, and the
parents being the ones in charge of the child’s education. There are options to have the school
only hold your records and not to attend campus classes, 1 day a week classes or 2 day a week
classes.
We get to choose our own curriculum at home but we have staff who can help point us in the
right direction if we don’t know where to start. We can adjust our curriculum at any time and are
not mandated to follow any specific kind. Their curriculum is literature based and they integrate
art and social studies and we have also enrolled our son in a science/STEAM class & physical
education/sports class. There are also workshops, field trips, and other community/learning
events for parents.

 

“Remember you’re not locked into a decision. I say kid by kid and year by year. You can change your mind. You can try things.”

 

What do you focus on/supplement in educating at home?

Once we start the hybrid, we will focus on reading/handwriting/phonics and math at home but
also integrate all subject areas. Because this coming year will be kinder/preK for when my
daughter joins in, it will still be very gentle/flexible/fluid/short. We will do what he is willing/able/
desires. I’m excited to try looping & integrating all subject areas with thematic lessons and curriculum that integrates them all together. I love having access to a variety of recourses,
finding things on the fly, and capitalizing on interest I see from my children. I consider myself to
have an eclectic homeschool style.
I haven’t followed a specific guide or curriculum yet, but am planning to follow a few more
consistently in the Fall, but thus far, we use the resources I have for inspiration to pull from as I
see interest from my kiddos. For example, my son started asking a lot of questions about the
moon, so I created my Moon Phases Bundle (last year) & your Lunar Log & The Peaceful Press’
Sky Guide for a short and sweet lesson. I pull them out again when I hear him talking about it
again. I usually pull a Biblical resource out to match that so I incorporate scripture in it and we
discuss during tea time in the afternoons.
On our trip to NC this past January, we stayed in a log cabin with my family & the cabin had a
large telescope. We set it up and the kids were able to look through it and it just so happened
the very next week was Moon Week with Exploring Nature with Children! I really just let our lives
and what is going on in it dictate what we discuss and learn about at home. It’s very go with the
flow right now. If my oldest is enjoying something from school, we work more on it at home.
Both of my older kiddos love crafts and drawing so I keep art supplies and craft supplies in our
craft cart so it’s readily available for them. My 4 year old daughter often asks me questions
about letters & sounds so I keep alphabet resources out. She loves wipe-clean books and has
begun to learn to trace & write on her own. I haven’t done any formal routine with her on this. I
have just gone with her interest. She is now beginning to write letters & numbers on her own, is
able to count to 30+ and knows many beginning letter sounds, simply from her own interest and
curiosity and willingness. I’m not in a rush for her to know these things as I see her own
willingness & readiness is showing up, each day, and I see her blossoming without a lot of direct
instruction on my part.

 

What advice do you have for families who are seeking a hybrid homeschooling rhythm?

Do your research! Talk to people. Pick people’s brains and then take what they say into
consideration and then figure out what works best for your family. Keep talking and researching
and try to turn over every leaf until you find what you’re looking for. Remember you’re not locked
into a decision. I say kid by kid and year by year. You can change your mind. You can try things.
It’s more than okay to accept help & support for your homeschool, if you desire it, and it’s a
good fit for your family. Don’t feel you’re alone and keep searching until you find people who can
help, because they are out there!
Shadow the classrooms & see what style works best. Know yourself and be confident in who
you and your children are to find what will work best. And don’t compare. I struggle with this, so
am preaching to myself. It’s okay to want support and definitely okay to want community and if
you can find the school environment that fosters this then BINGO!

 

How has your homeschool changed through the addition of younger siblings?

Because my kiddos are still so young, my oldest being 5.5, I would say that my style has kind of
stayed the same with the addition of younger kiddos as we just do life together and when we do
sit down for activities or loose lessons, my younger ones are around, too. I usually have a baby
in the swing or on my lap, a 2 year old getting into some mischief and my 4 year old daughter
tagging along doing what she is up for. In fact we do more now than we did simply because my
son is older. We have developed some rhythms of tea time, learning invitations, & read alouds. I often get out play dough or do-a-dot markers, sensory bins or other things to keep busy hands
busy if my oldest one or two and I are working on something specific. We also do a lot of crafts
& baking together so that we can all be involved, again usually my 2 year old making more of a
mess than “helping” and my babe in my arms or napping. As of late we have been picking my
oldest up from preK or using our 2 days off for backyard play, walks in the neighborhood or
other adventure days to local parks/outside areas. I have been very inspired recently to
incorporate this into our homeschool.

 

“Take a deep breath! Let curriculums & learning invitations be your guides for inspiration & just
that, invitations!”

Do you have any advice for families who are educating a wide age range at home?

Take a deep breath! Let curriculums & learning invitations be your guides for inspiration & just
that, invitations! Don’t feel you have to get all the boxes checked off or everything accomplished
in one day or in one sitting. Set it out and see what happens! I often put activities on a clipboard
in our morning basket and see if my older two pick it up during the day. I show them I have put
something new in there and that usually intrigues them enough to want to check it out. Then
they decide when and how and where they want to do it.
I understand as children get older that more requirements might come into play so this style
might not work for everyone or for all ages, but this is my experience thus far and what is
working for us! I would also say choose resources & curriculum that fit the middle or higher tier
of your children and then modify for the rest of them. This way you can learn together and it
challenge the younger learners but be on a level that is appropriate for the older, as well. Give
choice when you can and follow their interests!

 

Thank you Stephanie, for sharing your perspective and heart with us. I know your unique homeschooling style will speak to many mothers out there!

You can learn more about Stephanie by visiting her website at www.storiesbeginathome.com and following her on Instagram @storiesbeginathome and check out her shop on Etsy.

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